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Captain Ketchup

from NPR

Meet The Man Who Guards America’s Ketchup

by DAN CHARLES

Hector Osorno is the Kraft Heinz Ketchup Master, whose job it is to make sure around 70% of the ketchup sold in America tastes the way it should. Dan Charles/NPR

My search for the secrets of American ketchup began in a sun-baked field near Los Banos, Calif.

The field didn’t look like much at first. Just a wide, pale-green carpet of vines. Then Ross Siragusa, the head of global agriculture for the company Kraft Heinz, bent over, lifted up some of the vines, and revealed a mass of small, red fruit, too many to count.

Each acre of this field, Siragusa tells me, will produce about 60 tons of tomatoes. That’s up from about 40 tons per acre just 15 years ago. The tomatoes themselves are a mix of tomato varieties that are specially bred to produce red, thick ketchup.

A mechanical harvester approaches at the pace of a brisk walk. It’s a giant machine, a factory on wheels. It collects a swath of tomato plants, shakes fruit loose from the vines, and sends a stream of bright red tomatoes into a big truck driving alongside. The scale and speed of the operation boggles the mind.

Within a day, a processing plant in Los Banos will turn these tomatoes into paste. Weeks or even months later, the paste will become the central ingredient in ketchup.

[ click to continue reading at NPR ]

Posted on September 9, 2019 by Editor

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